Tag Archives | Geology

Core Finding: Earth’s Frozen Center Formed a Billion Years Ago

"Jordens inre-numbers" by Original Mats Halldin Vectorization: Chabacano - . Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Commons.

Jordens inre-numbers” by Original Mats Halldin Vectorization: Chabacano – . Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Commons.

New research found that Earth’s inner core of solid iron “formed between 1 billion and 1.5 billion years ago.”

Tia Ghose via Live Science:

What’s more, the new findings suggest that Earth’s magnetic field, which is powered by the swirling flow of liquid iron surrounding the inner core, could continue going strong for quite a while, said study co-author Andy Biggin, a paleomagnetism researcher at the University of Liverpool in England. (Paleomagnetism is the study of the record of the Earth’s magnetic field in rocks, sediment or archaeological materials.)

“The theoretical model which best fits our data indicates that the core is losing heat more slowly than at any point in the last 4.5 billion years and that this flow of energy should keep the Earth’s magnetic field going for another billion years or more,” Biggin said in a statement.

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Inskip beach collapse: just don’t call it a ‘sinkhole’

It might look like a sinkhole, but it’s something quite different.

It might look like a sinkhole, but it’s something quite different.

As was widely reported in the media, at around 10pm last Saturday night, a “sinkhole” opened up at a beachfront campground on the Inskip peninsular.

The thing is, it almost certainly wasn’t a sinkhole.

Unanticipated ground collapses occur around the world from time to time, and these generally get labelled “sinkholes”, for want a more appropriate term. Yet “sinkhole” is poorly defined and often misused, generally referring to some type of geological phenomenon that causes localised ground surface collapse.

In its strict sense, a sinkhole occurs when there is movement of surface soil or rock downward to fill a cavity in the ground below it. Thankfully, open underground cavities are not so common in nature, and are limited to a few characteristic geological settings.

The classic manifestation of sinkholes is in karstic geological environments, such as the Nullabor Plains.… Read the rest

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Strange Rock from Russia Contains 30,000 Diamonds

This rock from Russia's Udachnaya mine contains 30,000 diamonds. Credit: Larry Taylor

This rock from Russia’s Udachnaya mine contains 30,000 diamonds.
Credit: Larry Taylor

via Live Science:

SAN FRANCISCO — Here’s the perfect Christmas gift for the person who has everything: A red and green rock, ornament-sized, stuffed with 30,000 teeny-tiny diamonds.

The sparkly chunk was pulled from Russia’s huge Udachnaya diamond mine and donated to science (the diamonds’ tiny size means they’re worthless as gems). It was a lucky break for researchers, because the diamond-rich rock is a rare find in many ways, scientists reported Monday (Dec. 15) at the American Geophysical Union’s annual meeting.

“The exciting thing for me is there are 30,000 itty-bitty, perfect octahedrons, and not one big diamond,” said Larry Taylor, a geologist at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, who presented the findings. “It’s like they formed instantaneously.”

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How One Woman’s Discovery Shook the Foundations of Geology

marie tharp maps (CC BY 2.0)

marie tharp maps (CC BY 2.0)

via Mental Floss:

Marie Tharp spent the fall of 1952 hunched over a drafting table, surrounded by charts, graphs, and jars of India ink. Nearby, spread across several additional tables, lay her project—the largest and most detailed map ever produced of a part of the world no one had ever seen.

For centuries, scientists had believed that the ocean floor was basically flat and featureless—it was too far beyond reach to know otherwise. But the advent of sonar had changed everything. For the first time, ships could “sound out” the precise depths of the ocean below them. For five years, Tharp’s colleagues at Columbia University had been crisscrossing the Atlantic, recording its depths. Women weren’t allowed on these research trips—the lab director considered them bad luck at sea—so Tharp wasn’t on board. Instead, she stayed in the lab, meticulously checking and plotting the ships’ raw findings, a mass of data so large it was printed on a 5,000-foot scroll.

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The legend of the Kamikaze typhoons


The Geological Society of America via Science Daily:

In the late 13th century, Kublai Khan, ruler of the Mongol Empire, launched one of the world’s largest armada of its time in an attempt to conquer Japan. Early narratives describe the decimation and dispersal of these fleets by the “Kamikaze” of CE 1274 and CE 1281 — a pair of intense typhoons divinely sent to protect Japan from invasion.

These historical accounts are prone to exaggeration, and significant questions remain regarding the occurrence and true intensity of these legendary typhoons. For independent insight, we provide a new 2,000 year sedimentary reconstruction of typhoon overwash from a coastal lake near the location of the Mongol invasions. Two prominent storm deposits date to the timing of the Kamikaze typhoons and support them being of significant intensity.

Our new storm reconstruction also indicates that events of this nature were more frequent in the region during the timing of the Mongol invasions.

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Randall Carlson on Rewriting History, Bridging the Gap Between Science and Religion and Avoiding Catastrophe

Via Midwest Real
image image 
Every night we go to bed taking it for granted that tomorrow will come. Sure, from time to time we have an unpleasant thought along the lines of “worst case scenario, my heart will give out and I won’t wake up.”

But, what if that wasn’t the worst case scenario?IMG_1109

As we speak, massive chunks of instant extinction are flying by the vessel we inhabit at preposterous speeds. If one of them crosses Earth’s path, it could easily be game over for the human race.

As long as we’ve been aware of that inconvenient fact, it’s been good for precisely one thing- apathy. That’s because the ability to do anything about it was completely absent from the equation. Well, that’s not the case anymore. We actually do have the technology and intelligence to do something about it. However, thus far, we’ve shown a complete and total lack of will to seriously discuss it.… Read the rest

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Trovants: Romania’s Incredible Growing ‘Rocks’


Pic: Genudoc (CC)

These amazing growing “rocks” remind me of another curious geological phenomena: The racing rocks of Death Valley.

Via Oddity Central:

When I first read about trovants, I couldn’t believe they were real. They sounded like objects Captain Kirk and his crew would discover on an alien planet. Strange rocks that grow when it rains and move from one place to another without any assistance. Totally sci-fi, right?

As I kept reading about them, I discovered that trovants aren’t a part of science fiction, they are just an amazing geological phenomena. These stones seem to grow as if they are alive, even though they’re not. They are found in the small Romanian village of Costesti. The word ‘trovant’ is a synonym for the German term “Sandsteinkonkretionen” (try saying that really fast), which means ‘cemented sand’.

Cemented sand – that’s a strange name for a rock, isn’t it?

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New Photos Suggest That Planet Mercury Is Hollow

The hollows appear to have formed relatively recently. The next question is, what lies inside? Phys.org writes:

A recent image acquired by NASA’s MESSENGER spacecraft shows the interior of Eminescu, a youngish 80-mile wide crater just north of Mercury’s equator. Eminescu made science headlines last year with MESSENGER’s discovery of curious eroded blotches called “hollows” scattered across its interior and surrounding its central peak, and now it looks like the spacecraft may have spotted some of these strange features in their earliest stages of formation along the inner edge of the crater’s rim.

First announced in September 2011, hollows have now been identified in many areas across Mercury. The lack of craters within hollows indicates that they are relatively young. It was suggested that they may be the result of an ongoing process on Mercury.

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‘Mundus Subterraneus’: Arcane, Uncanny, Online

Until recently, if you wanted to leaf through Athanasius Kircher’s Mundus Subterraneus, you had to sneak into a university’s rare book collection at night, Wilbur Whateley-style.  Now the complete work, with its many bizarre and fantastic illustrations, is available at the Internet Archive—enjoy. John Glassie has an excellent piece on it at The Public Domain Review:

Just before Robert Hooke’s rightly famous microscopic observations of everything from the “Edges of Rasors” to “Vine mites” appeared in Micrographia in 1665, the insatiably curious and incredibly prolific Jesuit scholar Athanasius Kircher published what is in many ways a more spectacular work. Mundus Subterraneus (Underground World), a two-volume tome of atlas-like dimensions, was intended to lay out “before the eyes of the curious reader all that is rare, exotic, and portentous contained in the fecund womb of Nature.” There is an “idea of the earthly sphere that exists in the divine mind,” Kircher proclaimed, and in this book, one of more than thirty on almost as many subjects that he published during his lifetime, he tried to prove that he had grasped it.

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A Real Journey To The Center Of The Earth

Chikyu (ship, 2002) 20120929This may sound reminiscent of a certain famous novel by Jules Verne, or Hollywood movie if you prefer, but it’s really in progress reports Tom Levitt for CNN:

Humans have reached the moon and are planning to return samples from Mars, but when it comes to exploring the land deep beneath our feet, we have only scratched the surface of our planet.

This may be about to change with a $1 billion mission to drill 6 km (3.7 miles) beneath the seafloor to reach the Earth’s mantle — a 3000 km-thick layer of slowly deforming rock between the crust and the core which makes up the majority of our planet — and bring back the first ever fresh samples.

It could help answer some of our biggest questions about the origins and evolution of Earth itself, with almost all of the sea floor and continents that make up the Earth´s surface originating from the mantle.

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